Page 153 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 153

 decision. In the autumn of 1728 two newly built ships were fitted out for the expedition to China, but only one ship, the COXHOORN (2755) sailed at that point, the other one, the BUREN, had to let the season pass because of ice drifts.83
During the following years Zeeland also took part in this shipping. The ships sailed back and forth to Canton, a place where the VOC had no factory. There was no connection with the Company's intra-Asiatic trade, and unlike for instance in shipping to Bengal it was possible to treat each equipage of ships as a separate enterprise. This enabled careful calculations to be made of the profits of this trade.8 4
The results of these calculations did not satisfy the directors. The costs of equipment were considered too high, the more so since ships on their outward voyage could not take men or goods for the Company's business in Batavia. For better use of capacity it was proposed in 1733 to put an extra fifty men on the East Indiamen destined for Canton, who at the Cape were to be placed on other vessels to fill vacancies due to disease or death. But after this decision only one more ship sailed directly for Canton, the NOORD- WOLFSBERGEN (2935). The directors' plan of 1732 to establish a permanent office at Canton under Batavia's authority had been used by the Hoge Regering to propose that the entire trade with China might as well be left to Batavia - and in 1734 the directors agreed to this. Under the new arrangement direct sailings home from Canton were main- tained all the same. From 1735 two or more ships were sent from Batavia to Canton in July or August, only one of them to return to the rendez-vous. The other ship, or ships, sailed via Sunda Strait to Europe without calling at the Batavia roadstead. It was hoped that the buying in at Canton would be cheaper this way: the remaining carga's, as the merchants in the China trade were called, could now do their work in the quiet period when there were no ships.
But in the end this arrangement did not prove satisfactory either. In the more general discussion held around the mid-eighteenth century about the recovery of the worsened financial situation of the Asia business, the Canton trade became, for the critics, the scapegoat. In particular Thomas Hope, at that time still in office as sworn principal sha- reholder, raised objections to the existing organization of the China trade. He calculated that export of pepper to China was less profitable than export of silver, the pepper produ- cing more profit when disposed of in Europe. But apart from all calculations the many records savour of suspicion against the servants in Batavia. The Heren Zeventien in this case let themselves be persuaded by the principal shareholders and decided - in 1756 - again to take the running of this trade in their own hands.85
Outwardly nothing much changed. Unlike in the years 1727-1734 the outward bound ships after 1757 first sailed to Batavia, for full use to be made of cargo space. Thus, in the Lists, for ships destined for China, Batavia is given as port of arrival in Asia, while under particulars the ship is recorded as having sailed on to Canton. This gave the Hoge Regering the opportunity to send along, next to the silver dispatched from the Netherlands, pepper and spices - and, in spite of Hope's objections, liberal use was made of this opportunity. From Canton the ships then made straight for home. Goods purchased in Canton for Batavia were shipped there in Chinese or sometimes Portuguese junks, with the exception of gold however. This precious metal was entrusted to the homeward bound
83 The BUREN did not have much luck, when she was finally ready to sail in November 1729 (2782) she was wrecked on departure.
84 De Korte, De jaarlijkse financiƫle verantwoording, 56-59. 85Steur,Herstelofondergang,57-65.

   151   152   153   154   155